A dossier on the Tvind Teachers Group. Are Humana People-to-People, Planet Aid, the Gaia Movement and DAPP siphoning off cash through tax havens? Is it a cult?

A dossier on the Tvind Teachers Group. Are Humana People-to-People, Planet Aid, the Gaia Movement and DAPP siphoning off cash through tax havens? Is it a cult?

THE TEN ‘CHARITIES’ THAT WORK TOGETHER

 

1.   Humana People-to-People

Humana People-to-People is a ‘development charity’ founded in the 1970s by Amdi Petersen and the original members of the Teachers Group (TG), the controlling body of the broader Tvind organisation.  It collects used clothing — ‘for foreign aid and environment projects’ — using volunteers recruited through Tvind training colleges.  As a charity, it also collects grants and donations, including large sums from official bodies as well as corporations.

In the Third World, especially Africa and India, its ‘development projects’ with names such as DAPP (Development Aid from People to People), ADPP, Hope Humana, TCE (Total Control of the Epidemic), Child Aid and Farmers Clubs handle the money, a serious conflict of interest as they themselves are TG-controlled.

From small beginnings in Scandinavia, it now has a presence in 43 countries, including the USA and all of Europe as well as the Third World, and is estimated to have a ‘turnover’ of donations and revenue in excess of $80 million a year.

We have established that Humana People-to-People is essentially an offshore entity which benefits the TG more than it does ‘African development’.  Its parent body, The Federation for Associations Connected to the International Humana People to People Movement, is a private trust based in Switzerland.  More than 30 member organisations, all TG-run, each pay a significant ‘membership fee’.  In 1996-7, the UK Charity Commission investigated and closed down Humana People-to-People UK in Britain for ‘serious financial impropriety’ and ‘serious concerns over the safety and welfare of children’.  It remains closed.

Humana People-to-People is connected through Tvind to the Atlanta-based used clothing broker, Garson & Shaw (see below), a TG company which facilitates international clothing sales.

 

2.   Planet Aid

The largest TG ‘charity’ and used clothes collecting enterprise in the United States, claiming to have 13,000 used-clothes bins earning more than $30 million.  In recent years Planet Aid has attracted large donations from the U.S. Government and well-known multinational companies.  Planet Aid routinely denies it is connected in any way to the TG, but we know that all four leading directors are TG members, that Planet Aid is in business with used clothing broker Garson & Shaw (see below), and is an affiliate of a Swiss money box, the Federation for Associations Connected to the International Humana People-to-People Movement.

 

3.   USAgain

USAgain is a TG-controlled for-profit company that collects and sells used clothes across the USA, yet has made bold claims to be both protecting the environment and aiding the Third World.

We have traced its ownership to an offshore Belize-based trading company run by the TG, with addresses in Jersey and the Cayman Islands.  Although its executives, Mattias Wallander and Janice Bostic, deny it is part of ‘Tvind’, both have admitted they are TG members and have failed to disclose the extent of their involvement with the cult.  The company was originally founded in 1999 by a TG veteran, the Dane Allan Foighel.

Like its sister charities, Planet Aid US and Humana People-to-People, USAgain is connected to the Tvind-run used clothing broker, Garson & Shaw, based in Atlanta, Georgia.  The brokerage company buys used clothes cheaply from the TG’s clothing-collection enterprises, and sells them privately for a profit on world markets.

 

4.   The Gaia Movement Trust

Gaia Movement Living Earth Green World Action is the name of a TG nonprofit ’environmental charity’, based in Chicago, which places donation bins for clothes and shoes across the United States.

We have established that it is linked to a Swiss offshore trust with a similar name, the Gaia-Movement Trust Living Earth Green World Action.  The trust President is a well-known TG member, Elsebeth Soendergaard.

Gaia Movement claims to promote rainforest and other environmental projects, and protect wildlife reserves, but all the projects listed on its websites — especially in India, Mozambique, Zambia and Brazil — are TG-controlled.  Gaia Movement courses are all conducted in Humana’s 14 teacher training colleges in Malawi, Mozambique and Angola.  It is led by TG veterans Eva Nielsen, Boerge Mors and Josefin Jonsson,

The Gaia Movement’s clothing donation bins state that a logo of the Swiss flag used on its boxes are ’licensed’ by the Swiss Gaia Trust, an offshore entity based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The same name is used on drop boxes run by the TG in Britain, mostly operated by a West Midlands company, Green World Recycling.  Gaia Movement Living Earth Green World Action is also one of the 32 affiliates of the Swiss-based Humana Federation.

 

5.   Green World Recycling

A TG company based in the English Midlands, which collects used clothing and shoes apparently for environmental causes and aid for the developing world.  It is effectively the UK branch of the Gaia Movement Trust.  The company operates ‘Gaia’ bins placed throughout the United Kingdom.

The company — which is not a charity — is led by TG veteran Torben Soe, whose wife Birgit Soe is also a TG member who runs the British sister company Planet Aid UK

 

6.   DAPP

Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) is a name that has been used by the TG since the 1970s for local charities it controls in Africa and other developing countries.  In Portuguese-speaking Angola and Mozambique, the organisations are known as ADPP (Ajuda de Desenvolvimento de Povo para Povo).  These charities collect and use money from old clothes sales, but are controlled by the TG.

In the UK, a registered charity called DAPP UK has collection bins and two old-clothes shops, and maintains links with the TG clothes collection company, Planet Aid UK.

Our investigations suggest that the DAPPs in Africa are an integral part of the TG ‘hot money-go-round’.  DAPP in Angola was at the heart of a scandal when it was revealed that volunteers were used as ‘money mules’ to transfer hard currency from Angola bank accounts to Denmark.  The money allegedly came from clothing sales and donations by international oil companies.

 

7.   Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE)

These are typical names for Humana People-to-People and DAPP-sponsored schemes in Africa.  TCE and Hope Humana are AIDS/HIV education projects partly staffed by unpaid volunteers.  ‘Child Aid’ projects are for orphans and children and often linked to orphanages.  The TG also runs projects called ‘Children’s Towns’.

‘Farmers Clubs’ are agricultural projects.  The TG has landholdings in several African countries, and commercial agricultural enterprises.

 

8.   Friends Forever

Friends Forever is a TG enterprise that commissions expensive African artwork from sculptors in Zimbabwe, and sells the sculpture for large sums to collectors all over the world.  Exhibitions of stone sculptures arranged by Friends Forever have been held in Washington, Vienna, Berlin, Moscow and elsewhere.

In promotional material, the Friends Forever company fosters the impression it is semi-charitable, helping raise Zimbabwean sculptors from poverty, providing a regular income and health benefits and reinvesting profits into Zimbabwe society.  However, our investigations suggest that the sculptors hardly benefit from their work and the real financial beneficiary is the TG.

The company is not a charity and is registered in Zimbabwe and Britain.

 

9.   The DRH Schools or Travelling Folk High Schools

Private colleges in at least eight countries that offer a ‘volunteering abroad’ syllabus to older teenagers and young adults.  They claim to prepare students as volunteers or ‘development instructors’ abroad for Planet Aid, Humana People-to-People and the Gaia Movement.  The colleges follow the model of the original ‘Travelling Folk High School’ (Danish: Den Rejsende Højskole), devised for the Tvind Schools Cooperative in the 1970s, which focuses on learning through travel and hands-on experience.

Students pay a substantial fee in advance and are also obliged to ‘fundraise’: begging on the streets of nearby towns and cities, selling pamphlets and seeking donations towards the cost of their foreign travel. 

The colleges have elicited hundreds of complaints from former students, with allegations ranging from low standards of ‘teaching,’ to dire living conditions, unreasonable work hours, bullying and even a ‘cult-like’ atmosphere.  Most ‘teachers’ are unqualified and were themselves students at the same colleges.  Students are often exploited as free labour benefiting TG-owned businesses.

These are the main DRH Colleges:

  • IICD Massachusetts (closed around 2016)
  • IICD Michigan
  • CICD, Hull, UK
  • DRH Norway, Lillehammer
  • Richmond Vale Academy, St Vincent, Caribbean
  • KNEC, South Africa
  • College in India
  • College in China
  • DRH Colleges in Denmark

→ Using the DRH Colleges to launder money

 

10.   The Tvind Schools Movement

The name ‘Tvind’ derives from the place where the organisation was founded in 1974, on a farm located at Skorkærvej 8, near the town of Ulfborg in western Denmark.  A small stream called Madum Bæk twists its way across the farm property.  ‘Twist’ in Old Danish is tvind — pronounced like ‘twin’.

Originally the Tvind Schools Cooperative consisted of two private junior schools, an Efterskole (continuation high school), the Travelling Folk High School, and a college for adults called the Necessary Teacher Training College (Danish: Det Nødvendige Seminarium [DNS]).

The campus is both the original headquarters of the Tvind educational movement and the spiritual home of the Tvind Teachers Group, which has since become international.  Today the site is still occupied by several Tvind schools and administrative buildings.  The name ‘Tvind’ has since become synonymous with the Teachers Group and the movement as a whole.

 

 ‘Small Schools’

The TG’s ‘small schools’ (Danish: småskoler) are boarding schools designed for children aged 10-18 with severe ‘behavioural and emotional difficulties’.  Children and teenagers exhibiting such problems are supposed to benefit from Tvind’s educational programme of learning through travel, practical activity and strict discipline.

Fees are usually paid by local authorities and the amounts involved can be very high — even though the staff are rarely qualified, and the schools may depend on volunteers.  The schools have made significant amounts of money for the TG, fed into tax haven accounts through wages, rents and services paid to offshore companies.

Following complaints, several of the schools have been officially closed down.  In the 1980s there were 14 small schools around the world, but today few remain, mostly in Denmark.

Aka Pecha, Virginia, USA – closed down

Red House, Norfolk, England – closed down

Winestead Hall, Hull, England – closed down

 
Schools and Colleges in Africa

The Tvind Teachers Group dominates education in several African countries, notably Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.  Since the 1970s the Tvind Teachers Group has opened schools, orphanages, vocational schools and teacher training colleges throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  It also runs a ‘One World University’ in Mozambique, which it claims will offer ‘degree level’ education in cooperation with DRH colleges in the West.

The university and vocational colleges, such as the Zimbabwe Frontline Institute, have become fertile recruiting grounds for the TG organisation, which has recently inducted many young black Africans lured by the promise of travel, work and training.  In reality, our investigations show that many African recruits to the TG are sent to fundraise, or used as free labour for commercial operations.

One World University, Mozambique

Frontline Institute, Zimbabwe

 

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